We have discussed various aspects of transport this week. So if we are to create a more sustainable society what could we do? What do we want to do?
Some thoughts, by no means the answer!
The theme running through planning policy in the past and which presumably still applies is to encourage people to live close to where they work. Sounds admirable but in many cases it is not practical and it ignores other travel – leisure and retail for example.
Planning can play a part – through discouraging activities that generate extra travel but it its overall impact is limited.
We certainly need to recognise that allowing projects such as the Eden Project to proceed or the Stadium for Cornwall to obtain planning permission simply encourage more travel!
Taxes and charges
Ensuring that transport users bear the true cost of travel is one way of making travel more sustainable. DIscouraging too may trips by car to shops through parking charges is one way of achieving this.
If aviation fuel were to be taxed in the same way as fuel for vehicles this would help to reduce demand for this mode of transport.
A major factor which impacts on how people travel is that of lifestyle choice. A substantial element of travel is through choice – where to shop, whether to visit the local pub/restaurant or travel further afield. People who decide to live in Mawnan but also like shopping at Exeter, dining out at Watergate Bay and frequently travel abroad via Newquay have effectively made a choice.
We may have to accept that if we wish to live in a rural area we cannot have the same lifestyle as someone in a large city.
Can we therefore ask people to be altruistic? Probably not! We therefore have to nudge people into changing their habits. This takes us back to taxes and charges but we have to do more than this. By themselves such changes cannot be effective. Unequal wealth and income will mean that some households will be little affected by say car parking charges. We therefore have to be serious about reducing disparities in income and wealth.
What is evident is that we cannot ignore the wider picture. Unsustainable housing and economic growth cannot continue. We need to work towards a steady state society.